Because Photography

 

One of my goals while earning my master’s degree this year in Spain was to in my free time travel and pull out my camera. In the last eight months of moving to Europe, I’ve definitely been able to accomplish both of those things! I live in Madrid and though there are certainly some pretty spots that feature architecture and history such as Plaza Mayor, to get out of Madrid for cities like Sevilla is refreshing.

I HIGHLY recommend the springtime Feria festival held two weeks after Semana Santa each year. The bright colors, smells of seafood and churros con chocolate, horse drawn carriages, and women dressed in flouncy flamenco dresses encapsulate Andalusian vibes. Between walking the festival, el Rio Guadalquivir, and the city to my favorite spot- Plaza de España, Queen Amadala’s castle in Star Wars, it was a HOTTT 90° weather weekend, but worth it for the photos and study abroad memories years before.

Sevilla memories of drinking Tinto de Verano (Spain’s drink of choice leaving Sangria to tourists), studying by the water, and all the parties we used to show up at midnight not leaving till 4am make for some of the most fun memories of college. And last weekend was a blessing to return to this underrated, incredibly beautiful city.

Besides the travel, putting my mind to improve photography, and getting the chance to really see what a wide lens can do with the city scenics. It is way different than my close up, tight, detail photos I usually aim to capture. Trying new techniques and lenses makes me realize that as soon as I get “good” at one thing in the world of video or photo, there are 1,000 other new things to learn and try with the camera.

At the end of the day, to walk away with 30+ photos that I’m proud of from one city, means that my goals in photography this year are coming true and I’m excited to see what other photos I will get in the next two months as I finish out my schooling.

 

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Hidden Shoes and Why I Love Production

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A 1600 Dutch flower painting inspired shoe campaign features ballet shoes covered in rose petals with roses tossed all around, as if a dancer finished her finale dance with success. Using Photoshop to get the painted look, the photo was shot on a Sony FS700 with a 70-300mm lens.

This conceptual shoe campaign was an assignment for my masters program at IE University in Madrid and I won an award out of 20 other students (21 in my class including myself) for the photos. Really happy with how my photography is improving. Especially considering  the makeshift studio set up that I came up with to pull off the look (last two pics my roommate snapped when he saw what I was up to).

Taking a black bed sheet, I hung it from my little wardrobe with containers and boxes to hold it in place. Setting up the shoes and flowers on a beat up chest in front I was able to pull in close enough with the lens and eliminate most of the chest. One light was all I needed for the warm light look. Using Photoshop and Lightroom I was able to almost get rid of the grey bench. Played with the color some in Lightroom I finally exported a cooler looking image and three warm images which in Photoshop I gave a painted look.

The final images, pulled out of thin air considering my set up, reminded me why I love photography and video production. You don’t see the behind the scenes, the work put in, the post production process, the ideation, and the execution of photography, film, movies, shows. My little, makeshift studio was perfect for reminding me of the beauty of a final product that proves you don’t need “the best” to pull off something great. With technique and talent, anything can look good in the end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cost of Money and The Blessing of Less

 

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Photo Cred: Katie Harp

Everything comes at a price they say. The water we drink, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the education we get, the entertainment we buy, the technology we use, who we put ourselves around because of how we spend our money. And the more money we have, the more we can eat, watch, consume, buy, waste…

I’m a lucky one. And to be honest it doesn’t matter what living conditions you had in the United States, if you were born and raised in the USA you are a lucky one too. With the highest GDP in the world, the US is one of the strongest leaders in technology, business, investment, and “getting rich” in the world. And think about the 1,000s of people trying to enter the US right now. No. It isn’t perfect. But, yes, if you grew up there your life was ‘better’ than most of the rest of the world and this is how I know:

I moved to Spain a few months ago now and started classes at an international business school in Madrid. Here, I’ve met people from all over the world, and it has been wonderful. But while in school, I’ve realized that though everyone comes from different places, I’m meeting a certain “type” and “class” of people from all over the world. The wealthy 1%. Columbians, Indians, Venezuelans, Spaniards, Australians, Scandinavians, South Africans, and people from so many other countries across the world, I’m meeting the type and class of people who can afford a top-notch master’s program in Europe and all of the costs that come with it.

And that’s how I know that coming from a middle class family in the States, the USA is rich.

When I hear on Facebook people in the US complaining about their quality of life I ask why? Because you have freedom to choose a profession? Because you GET to go to school, and work without force, and have freedom to worship whatever deity you so choose? Because you get to buy a new TV and phone every year? And can afford Netflix, internet, data plans, and food? Because you have a place to live that you can afford, even if you don’t like the price?

You see, it’s EASY to want more. It’s easy to play the “if only” game and then feel sorry for ourselves. I know this because I just caught myself doing it a few weeks ago.

“If only I earned more…” “If only the government didn’t take so much tax out…” “If only my car insurance didn’t cost so much…” “If only I had more money so I could…” What? So, you could… what? Truly what would more get you?

Probably a lot. More money could get you a lot more. But a lot more of what?

Where are you putting your money? What are you spending your time doing because of your money? Investing? Giving? Entertainment? A new couch, because the old one is dated? A bigger house because each kid deserves their own room? Do you ever just buy someone a little gift at work, like a cup of coffee or lunch just because? Do you ever say, no don’t worry about Venmo-ing me this time, I know you’re going through stuff?

The reason I ask these questions is because of my current Spain situation. I don’t have “extra” I have enough.

I have enough for rent, for groceries on a budget, minutes for my phone, and enough to take a few trips while I am in Spain to other countries… I believe that to not take extra trips would be a waste while I am on this side of the pond.

But here is the thing, a few weeks ago I was PISSED. I was jealous of people around me who are planning weekend trips every weekend, shopping for fun, and can afford better apartments closer to the school. I was angry at my tight, gotta watch every penny budget. Until I realized something.

My tight, gotta watch every penny budget is actually freeing. It has freed up my time and energy to now focus and be choosy with my life.

I deleted Netflix because that is an extra that I can’t afford right now, but now, my time is more free and I’m not wrapped spending HOURS watching shows or movies each week. I deleted Spotify for the same reason, and now at the gym I’m not engrossed in my own music, but I listen to little conversations in Spanish around me. I can’t afford to jet off every long weekend like most students around me at school can do, so that means I get to know Madrid better and I get to be super picky about my “special” trips this year while I’m in Europe. And lastly, I don’t spend my time shopping the 100s of beautiful shoe and clothing stores here (when I already have way too many shoes and clothes in the USA). THANK GOD I can’t afford more on that end, I don’t have the space for it in my life back home!

I’m honing in on what actually makes me happy, what is actually important to me and ultimately God, as far as money, how I spend my time due to money, and who I let influence me due to where I spend my money. (Right now, my money is being spent and invested into my education and because of that I’m letting a school and master degree students from around the world influence me).

Money comes at a cost. Not for the money itself, but for what you do with the money, and the people you let influence your life because of money.

Money is good. And I want more of it, someday soon. But right now, I’m experiencing the blessing of having less.

Think about your own money habits, is there anything you can change, get rid of, or do that would free up your time in a new way or bless others by?

Can you jot down any good uses for and how you can be more purposeful with your time and money?

Bottomless Wallet

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PC: Juliandra Durkin

It’s two forty-five AM here in Madrid and though my eyes are burning a little in front of my laptop, and I have too much to do tomorrow to be tired, I have to admit I did not want to stop with my latest project and decided to post right away…. Even though I probably should wait because I need to submit this work in a month for my class portfolio.

“Bottomless Wallet” is a photo story of the consumerist culture we live in; inspired by the incessant shopping I’ve observed in Madrid. A two part photo series, I was able to capture part one today in the city with Bhavna who made modeling and styling the over the top consumerist appeal look easy.

These are just a few of the photos of part one, Bhavna taking in her phone and Starbucks, not a care in the world for anyone else. She did an amazing job and I am super excited for the direction of this project!

Even to the small things like a Christmas themed Starbucks cups, which is a reminder that we are in a ‘season of giving,’ we as a society have a tendency to ignore and look past people around us.

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PC: Juliandra Durkin

This season, give a little extra to people in need around you, buy someone else a coffee, put down your phones, look past (or better yet learn from) political differences for a second, don’t obsess about your hair or clothes so much, and find joy in the people around you more than the “stuff”– clothes, cars, football games, likes on social media, or whatever else you find yourself consumed with… More to come for Bottomless Wallet, and thank you again to Bhavna who I got to work with today!

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PC: Juliandra Durkin

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PC: Juliandra Durkin.

PS. I have got to learn how to watermark.

PPS. I don’t think that really matters as I’ll be uploading to Unsplash and all of those photos are free anyway!

Baby Steps in a Masters Program

Deep down, and not so deep down, I’m super nerdy. From Kindergarten when I first learned to write, spelling out words and forming sentences like “The cat played with the ball” I’ve loved school. I loved picking up a pencil, knowing I was doing something important that my parents and teachers would be proud of me for. That I was learning to be a part of society in a timeless way. I remember crying over things like multiplication tables in 5th grade and Chemistry in 10th grade, but even those subjects that didn’t come naturally, I was always proud of myself after a test that I somehow passed.

Though my career plans don’t require furthered education—to be honest they don’t require any education save for a vision that you have to convince others is great to get on board with for funding and movie making—I knew upon graduating college I wanted to go back to school “someday” after working a few years in the industry.

That “someday” is now and though I initially wanted to get my MBA, I found myself applying to a marketing program at a business school in Spain for a masters in Digital and Visual Media. A mix of creative, hands-on work and more theory-based classes such as Strategic Thinking and Media Ethics, this program offers a lot in terms of education, a sabbatical year abroad, and refreshment from intensive production work.

Here are a few items I’ve created for my Graphic Design class. Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator— as I work through assignments, I’m pretty proud of what I’m creating on these new (to me) software programs!

If I don’t share my work, it’ll just get digitally dusty sitting in some file somewhere, and even if what I’m posting seems basic to true experts, like a kindergartner learning to write “cat” I’m learning digital content creation in a new way and am excited about the baby steps I’m taking in my masters program.

Business Card Mock Up

Song - Tale as Old as Time - Project

Coachella Poster Design